Optimizing Your Site for Search Engines

If you've been following along in this little SEO mini series. You should now have a huge list of all the key phrases your site should be using and it's now time to actually fix your site.

Complete each of the following steps to improve the content on your Web site so that you rank rank higher in the search engines for your top prospects key phrases while your prospects are at their point of need.

  1. Use the mega list of keywords that you created yesterday to update the text on each of the relevant pages on your Web site.
  2. Ensure every single one of your Web pages has a unique page title that contains juicy keywords. The title is the bit that is displayed when a person bookmarks a page and the main link that appears in a search engine listing. Be descriptive!
  3. Break your page into smaller sections with sub-headings. Add bold and italics to key words and phrases on your site.
  4. Monitor your site's stats for search phrases people are using to find your site.

Give it a week or two and then re-test your search engine ranking for the key words and phrases that are important to your top prospects.

With these simple steps any small business can propel their Web site to a higher search engine ranking. You'll be able to get a better match between your "most wanted outcome" and your prospect's "point of need."

Go forth and rank higher!

Seeing Your Site Through a Search Engine's Eyes

Every single page of your Web site should have a purpose with an intended audience and a most wanted outcome.

Take a good look at every page on your Web site and write down your answers to the following questions:

  • What's the point of this page? Who needs to read it and what should they do after reading it?
  • What are the key phrases or keywords for this page?
  • What's the Wordle for this page? (Click the link to make a Wordle.)
  • Does the Wordle have the key phrases it needs for the right type of visitors to find this page?
  • What are key search phrases that visitors are currently using to get to my site? (If you're not using some kind of analytics package, shame on you!)

Find out what keywords your competitor sites are using. You can "view source" of individual pages to look for the meta tag that holds the keywords for that page, or you can have Google scrape out the keywords they think are important using one of their free tools (you may need a Gmail account to access these tools). Not only will you get a list of terms, but they'll also tell you how popular the term is and how heavy the competition is for the keyword. Find terms that are high on search volume, but low on competition.

In the next blog post you'll learn what to do with the list of keywords and phrases that you come up with. Don't skimp out! Do the work and ready to make your Web site into a total client magnet.

What Is SEO Anyway?

One of my top-favourite SEO specialists over at RankStudy defines SEO as "the process of enhancing both the content and the reputation of a Web page in order to improve search engine rankings and meet your top prospects at their immediate point of need." Broken out this gives SEO four key areas:

  1. content This is the quality of the words and phrases you use on your site--include the semantic value you give that content through the use of HTML markup (the codey stuff that makes up a Web page). Headings are more important that plain text. Page titles are more important than headings.
  2. reputation This is the quality of incoming links including the key phrases used in the link text as well as the popularity of the sites who link to you.
  3. top prospects Who's got the potential to become a paying customer or a raving fan? You want to create content to attract these people.
  4. match visitor needs to site content This is the pairing of your "most wanted outcome" with your visitor's "point of need." If your visitor needs a tutorial to help them with their user group demo and you want them to become a developer there's a mismatch between what you want and what your visitor wants.

In the next blog entry: how to see your site through a search engine's eyes.

Getting Started with SEO

This week I am almost completely consumed by search engine optimization. It's the topic for chapter in my new book on building Drupal Web sites and the topic for an SEO class that I'm teaching at the beginning of August. I've been comparing search results for phrases like "php drupal" and "php drupal help." I've been obsessing over click through rates and conversion rates and I've been studying the competition.

And then I got side tracked and stopped to see how some of my favourite free software projects rank in the search engines. I searched for four variations on the phrase "free graphics software." I expected to find top search results for two of my favourite free graphics applications (GIMP and Inkscape). Take a look at what I found:

GIMP ranks well in all four search phrases, but only the first link yields a top-ten result for Inkscape. What's up Inkscape? Why aren't you top ten how can we make you do better? SEO to the rescue. Before you get covered in hives and think that SEO is just for marketing wonks try doing a few searches of your own using variations on key phrases. The results are often surprisingly different. Almost every small business (or free software project) can complete a few easy steps to make their site more findable. Over the next few blog entries I'll show you how.

Can't wait? I'm pretty impatient too. So I've created a three-part mini workshop available INSTANTLY as a free email class. Sign up today and be done by the end of the week. Feel free to wait for each of the lessons to be posted here if you prefer to watch paint dry instead of getting started NOW.

As a super-awesome bonus you'll get a free subscription to the HICK Tech ezine. It comes out approximately monthly and includes full articles that aren't published here on topics relating to SEO, email marketing and Web site design.

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Emma helped take the Spinners' Quarterly website from a vague idea in my head to a complete, functional web presence. She was able to transform my non-tech questions into sound e-business ideas and to turn work around quickly every time, no matter how big or small the request. Emma is a pleasure to work with and I would strongly recommend her services if you are looking at developing or improving a website.

— Lorraine Smith, founder of Spinners' Quarterly

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